Are you ready to Go? Will you speak up?

Jesus was actively reassuring his followers on Resurrection Sunday. He appeared to the two men on the Road to Emmaus, to the women in the garden and Mary, to Peter and then to a gathering of disciples in a closed room. John records this closed door appearance in John 20:19-22. I like the Amplified translation as it makes what happened very clear.  “So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy.” The fact that Jesus appeared to them without opening the door tells us He was a spirit. Yet, he showed them His hands and side that had been pierced at the cross which tells us He was physically real.  Only Jesus could be both in His resurrection body

He begins with the common Hebrew greeting- ‘Peace to you’.  This shows Jesus’ love and sensitivity as perhaps they might have expected a harsh word from Jesus for abandoning Him after His arrest.  They received peace and warmth from their Savior not rebuke or criticism.  When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  Their response to Jesus was pure joy!  He sent greetings of peace as they were living in fear being behind locked doors. I’m sure they thought that what happened to Jesus at the hands of the religious leaders could happen to them as his disciples. What they needed was peace and Jesus knew that. They also needed a mission or purpose. For 3 years they had followed him, spoke with him, listened and saw the miraculous power of God. What purpose did they have without him? Jesus knew what they needed was direction and purpose so He gave them orders to go out and tell others.   He was sending them with power from His Holy Spirit to go and be His representatives, telling others of His death, resurrection, salvation, love and forgiveness of sins.  Jesus breathed on them power that would sustain them until the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost.     

tell others

What is your response to the risen Savior?  I’m sure the disciples had various reactions like joy that He was alive, curiosity about His wounds, questions about their purpose in life now that He is no longer teaching them day to day.   Jesus answered their questions, shared in their joy and gave them purpose.  It is the same purpose Jesus has for us- tell others the good news of the gospel.  He desires that everyone hear how He saves us from the penalty of sin which is death and makes us clean and forgiven in the sight of God.  Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17   “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Jesus sent them, and sends us too into the world where we live, to tell others the good news of Christ.  We have a commission from Christ to speak out and speak up for Him.

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda

A Purposeful Encounter with the Risen Lord

On Resurrection Sunday Jesus met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus.  Today’s passage shows what happened after Jesus left the men he had met on the road.

After encountering Jesus and breaking bread with Him, Jesus disappeared and the two on the Road to Emmaus quickly went to find the disciples. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.” Luke 24:33-43 NIV

What was their immediate concern?  Is Jesus real or are we experiencing a hallucination?  What was Jesus immediate concern?  Jesus wanted them to Know He was alive and for them to be at peace.  He did not want them anxious or fearful but open and willing to welcome Him into their midst.   What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus?   Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you or do you welcome Him and take the peace he always offers?

Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real and alive just as He promised.  He proved it to them by calmly showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and by eating food with them.  

How does Jesus make himself known to you?  Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word?   Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing.  In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence.  Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room.  Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is!   Be open to Him and He will reveal Himself to you and grace you with His peace.

Linda

upper-room
The disciples encountered Jesus in the upper room, where will you meet Him today?

Advent…Gloriously Completed in Jesus’ Arrival

Merry Christmas! I found this Christmas Blessing while blogging this year and really loved the sentiments it contained. May you know the blessings of Peace that Jesus brings, John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” May you see your Hope in Him, 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” May you feel the Sprit of His Love, 1 John 3:23 “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” May you have the Comfort of Faith in Jesus, 2 Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

All of these gifts complete the circle of our Advent Wreath as we lit the Christ candle on Christmas Eve proclaiming His birth. May you find Love, Comfort, Hope and Peace in Jesus. May you rejoice in the arrival of Jesus and claim the JOY God has for you.

Linda

Advent…the 4th Sunday, Peace Good Will Towards men

On this 4th Sunday before Christmas, we light the 4th purple candle in the Advent wreath. The first purple candle was lit on the 1st Sunday- the prophecy candle which symbolized the hope the coming Messiah brings to mankind. The second was the Bethlehem candle which reminded us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The third candle was pink symbolizing the Shepherd’s joy at the birth of the Messiah. Today we light the Angel’s candle symbolizing the message given to the angels which was one of “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.” The final white center candle will be lit on Christmas Eve which speaks of the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ child.

Rejoice today as you worship and sing carols. Ponder the blessings of hope, joy and peace that come to us because of God’s mercy and grace in sending Jesus as our Savior. Here is Psalm 130 which speaks of our cries to God for mercy as we realize our own sin. The answer rests with the Lord and His mercy towards us in sending Jesus.

From the depths of despair, O Lord,
    I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
    Pay attention to my prayer.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.

I am counting on the Lord;
    yes, I am counting on him.
    I have put my hope in his word.

I long for the Lord
    more than sentries long for the dawn,
    yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
    for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
    His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from every kind of sin.

Thank you Lord for your unfailing mercy and love. Thank you for sending Jesus to redeem me from every kind of sin.

Linda

Happy Thanksgiving from the Heart

As I conclude this year’s Thanksgiving month of thanks, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! May the day be filled with thanks to the God who provides all we have and need. I chose as today’s verses Colossians 3:15-17. Let the Word of God bring to mind the many things you have to be thankful for and to create in you a growing attitude of gratitude towards Almighty God.

15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Have a blessed day thanking your heavenly Father, thanking Jesus, and thanking His indwelling Holy Spirit. Let your praises of Thanks be a sweet aroma towards Him.

Linda

Gratitude vs. Ingratitude, Which Reveals the real You?

Many times we do not take the time to say ‘thanks’ for something that is done for us or towards us. We think later, ‘O, did I remember to tell them thank you or not?’ Giving or saying ‘thanks’ is something our parents taught us to say because it shows good manners. But, why do you say thank you? Is it a rote response or is it from your heart? The reason I am going down this road is we need to find the root of our gratitude or the root of our ingratitude and the consequences of each.

Repeatedly this month we have seen that scripture tells us to give thanks. Gratitude is an attitude response for all God has done. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Our response to God and His goodness towards us for both physical and spiritual provisions is to be one of thanks. The giving of thanks creates within us a sense of peace, well being, hope and assurance of God’s love.

What about ingratitude? Romans 1:20-23 explains what happens when we refuse to give thanks and recognize that all good things come from God.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Paul is saying that we are without excuse when we fail to recognize and honor God. We have the world around us as proof of His existence and goodness. So what happens when we are ungrateful to God? Paul says our thinking becomes ineffective and useless, unproductive and our hearts are darkened or turned away from the goodness of God, His light. In our lives we can see that not being thankful leads to a hardness of heart towards others and perhaps a sense of entitlement. Somehow we feel the ‘world’ owes us good things. The reality of life is the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Let your heart, mind and words be filled with gratitude today. You will be blessed as you experience His hope, love, peace and joy. Let your gratitude come from your love for God so that it may have an eternal effect on those around you.

Linda

Faith, can you believe without seeing? Take a lesson from Thomas.

john-20-25-amp

The disciples had gathered one evening shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus appeared to them coming in through the locked doors.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from John 20:24-25.  Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  This is the passage that earned him the nickname of doubting Thomas.  He was emphatic that unless he saw the evidences of Jesus death marks himself he would not believe it to be Jesus. Do you know people that are doubters too?  Do they reject any evidence that Jesus is the Son of God in scripture purely because they can not see Him for themselves?  I’m sure the disciples were totally convinced as to what they had seen but saddened that Thomas could not share in the joy of Christ being alive because of his unbelief.

Thomas
john 20 29

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. John 20:26-29 continues the story,  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.  Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus knew what Thomas needed and came right to him.  Thomas was amazed and proclaimed Jesus his Lord and God.  To him, seeing was believing.  He needed a personal encounter with the living Jesus!   Jesus added this next verse for Thomas, the disciples and all of us.   29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”    

ephesians 1 13-14

Faith is a gift from God and we who believe in Jesus are blessed with the knowledge of Him as our Savior.  However, each one of us who believes encountered the living Christ and came to know Him in a personal, vibrant and  living way.   Even though we do not physically see Him,  we can and do know within our being that Jesus is Alive!  The Holy Spirit indwells us when we believe in Jesus and testifies to us about Him.  Jesus had promised this in John 15:26 ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  Later Paul, explains in Ephesians 1:13-14 how the Holy Spirit works within us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Praise God we too can know and experience Him in our lives.  We are blessed – Just as Jesus said we would be through our faith in Him!   Have a blessed day as you ponder the wonder of Jesus being alive in your life!

Linda

Peace and Purpose came from Jesus, do you have them?

Peace
john 20 19

Jesus was actively reassuring his followers on Resurrection Sunday.   He appeared to the two men on the Road to Emmaus,  to the women in the garden and Mary, to Peter and to a gathering of disciples in a closed room.   John records this closed door appearance in John 20:19-22.  I like the Amplified translation as it makes what happened clearer. 19 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side.”  The fact that Jesus appeared to them without opening the door tells us He was a spirit.   Yet, he showed them His hands and side that had been pierced at the cross which tells us He was physically real.  Only Jesus could be both in His resurrection body.  He begins with the common Hebrew greeting- ‘Peace to you’.  This shows Jesus’ love and sensitivity as perhaps they might have expected a harsh word from Jesus for abandoning Him after His arrest.  They received peace and warmth from their Savior not rebuke or criticism.  When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Their response to Jesus was pure joy!  He sent greetings of peace as they were living in fear being behind locked doors. I’m sure they thought that what happened to Jesus at the hands of the religious leaders could happen to them as his disciples. What they needed was peace and Jesus knew that. They also needed a mission or purpose. For 3 years they had followed him, spoke with him, listened and saw the miraculous power of God. What purpose did they have without him? Jesus knew what they needed was direction and purpose so He gave them orders to go out and tell others.   He was sending them with power from His Holy Spirit to go and be His representatives, telling others of His death, resurrection, salvation, love and forgiveness of sins.  Jesus breathed on them power that would sustain them until the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost.

romans 10 17
tell others

What is your response to the risen Savior?  I’m sure the disciples had various reactions like joy that He was alive, curiosity about His wounds, questions about their purpose in life now that He is no longer teaching them day to day?  Jesus answered their questions, shared in their joy and gave them purpose.  It is the same purpose Jesus has for us- tell others the good news of the gospel.  He desires that everyone hear how He saves us from the penalty of sin which is death and makes us clean and forgiven in the sight of God.  Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17   “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Jesus sent them, and us too, into the world where we live to tell others the good news of Christ.  We have a commission from Christ to speak out and speak up for Him.

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda

Thankfulness That Produces Results

Colossians 3:15-17 contains precious verses to empower, direct and motivate us to live lives to the honor and glory of God. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Paul’s message has 3 directives all followed by thankfulness. 1) let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and be thankful. 2) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,  and with thankfulness in your heart to God. 3) do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, always giving thanks to God the Father through him. Each of these actions of letting peace rule our hearts, letting His Word dwell within us and doing all we say and do in the name of Jesus need to motivate us as we seek to live for Jesus each day. Each needs to be followed with thankfulness which will be easy when you see that each of them produces great thankfulness in our hearts and minds. As we see what Christ has done for us, our gratitude increases.

How are you doing? Are you living in and with the peace of God? Jesus told his disciples and us too in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” It is yours for the asking, Jesus meant you to be at peace in Him.

Are you spending time in God’s Word and letting Him speak to you as you read and study? Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” John 17:8 “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” God’s Word is truth and reading it daily will allow Him to speak to you, minister to your soul and give you insights into your character and His.

Are you examining your words and actions to see if they line up with God’s desires, plans and commandments? Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God wants you to be a person of character walking in obedience to Him, with humility and trusting His plans that are for your good and His glory. God is always faithful so walk trusting Him with each day.

As you consider the 3 directives and examine your own heart, what is your level of thankfulness? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to incorporate thankfulness into all areas of our life- in all circumstances, both good times and hard. But when we do, our peace is increased, our love and understanding of God’s word is increased and our actions begin to be more and more like Jesus which produces profound thankfulness in our hearts. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can experience profound thankfulness as I learn to hold tightly to the peace of God, the Word of God and trust in His development of my character to be more and more like Jesus.

Linda

3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus did it All!

This week again we have an amazing list of benefits for believers through faith in our risen Lord Jesus. As you mediate on these truths from God’s Word in His letter to the Colossians, let the revelation of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross sink into your mind. Let it produce in you a greater sense of gratitude and hope.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know God the Father who is exactly represented by Jesus the Son and who is fully God, Creator and totally Sovereign over all creation. Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. Colossians 1:16b-17 “all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life. Colossians 1:18-20 “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled  everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Colossians 1:21-22 “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Colossians 1:24-27 “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory”.

I pray these truths will lead you to fall deeper in love with God and lead you to praise! Here is our praise Psalm for this week:

Psalm 105:1-5 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,

Have a blessed day and week to come,

Linda